“If you’re looking to grow or to change, or if you’re looking for some way for college to shape you that it hasn’t yet, this is the opportunity to find that spark and find that push to be the kind of person you want to be when you graduate.” — Brielle Saggese
Brielle (@briellesajz) is seriousabout fashion, and the breadcrumbs prove it. She’s slowly making her way around Europe and determined to make a name for herself in the industry. She’s interned at both PVH and LUCKY BRAND, has passion for art, travel, and food, and it all comes together in her interview.
*Point of fact: It costs exactly €17 to get into the Louvre which = $19.05. (We were trying to figure this out 😂)
Wine tasting, French politics, Portugal, riots, internships, and job searching are also covered.
“Lions do not lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.” – Anonymous
Bouncing around between studying abroad in France and Italy ✈ [2:00] Champs-Elysées
Gathering piecemealed funding for traveling 💰 [4:08]
Living through riots by the Champs-Elysées, and more normal activities 🏠 [5:43]
Art classes and applying to future jobs while in Florence 🎨 [8:12]
Language learning in two different countries 💬 [9:44 ]
Exploring the two respective countries for a more in-depth understanding 🚍 [11:14]
Escaping the riots in Bordeaux… the day before the riots started in Bordeaux 💥 [12:12]
A cheap hidden gem of traveling in Portugal 💎 [17:11]
“To be in a country where you don’t speak fluently and you struggle to express yourself [. . . ], it made me so sympathetic, empathetic for people who are in countries where they’re not a native speaker but they’re trying, because I never really knew how difficult it is to represent yourself in a natural way.”— Tiffany Ferguson (@tferg__)
Tiffany Ferguson is hustling. She’s got a wildly successful Instagram page (linked☝️), Youtube channel (linked👇), and Twitter account (linked right here) 👈
If blending your interests with your major, and having fun while you are doing it sound interesting to you, you should give this one a listen. If you want to graduate and have more than a piece of paper to show for it you should ALSO listen.
She hasn’t graduated yet, but it seems like she has.
I transferred (twice) and so did Tiffany, from California to New Orleans; then studied abroad in France, and finally moved to New York where she’s now happily enrolled at Hunter College. She addresses the moving pains associated with transfers in her interview.
Oh, I almost forgot; she studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence 🇫🇷, which is where her “mandatory baguette” picture above is from. Her interests are in film and media, and mine kind of are too. So we had fun, and that means you will as well.
Every study abroad company compiles annual lists of the most popular study abroad destinations based on data from students that studied abroad with them. I looked at all the lists and simply combined them into one, super list, which you can find below.
The beauty of it is that it’s not just the most popular places. It’s the places that make the most sense: economically, academically; what have you. Plus there is the ‘.5’ at the end of my list which you won’t find on any other site’s popularity contest of study abroad destinations so we feel like our list reigns supreme…bwahahaha.
Now you’ve got some context. On with the article!
P.S. It’s not a ranking, it’s a list, so they’re in no particular order.
If a study abroad trip is in your future, you’ve got a lot of decisions to make. About things like when to go and how long to stay, how to pay for it, where to live, and what classes to take. Yes, we’ve got a lot of the bases covered here on The Study Ablog. But we thought we’d give you even more options with a fresh, robust post on the subject.
Maybe you already have some ideas, but don’t start packing just yet. Before you address any of these, the most basic, possibly most difficult, and definitely most important decision you have to make is where you want to study abroad.
The destination you choose will have a huge impact on your experience; it will be vital not only to what you learn, but how you learn. So you’ll want to choose a country with the most ideal living situation for you.
Exactly how do you pick the best country to study abroad in?
It really depends on you and what you want to get out of your international experience. Here’s some info that can help you decide:
Traditional and Not-So-Traditional Study Abroad Options
Certain countries automatically come to mind when students think of studying abroad. They’re the most traditional choices, often the ones we’ve been most exposed to and are most familiar with like England, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and China. Studying in one of these countries might be the once-in-a-lifetime chance you’ve always dreamed of to be some place you’ve always wanted to visit.
If that’s how you feel, go for it and make your dream country your home away from home.
Or… consider something new and different for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Best Study Abroad Countries As We Transition Into A New Decade
Take a look at the most popular places to study abroad, based on the programs they offer, the level of interest that students have expressed in them, and recommendations from students who have already been there
1. JAPAN 🇯🇵
There’s something for everyone in Japan. Modern cities, traditional villages, beaches, mountains, museums, temples and shrines – this small country packs a really big wallop.
It’s slowly becoming creeping up the lists in popularity and it’s becoming more and more obvious why.
Besides providing the world with some of the most advanced technological advances to date, this exciting island nation is a mecca for pop culture, as well as a world-class center of art, literature, and music.
Pick the bustling urban lifestyle of a city like Tokyo, or the more casual atmosphere of a smaller town like Sapporo (this might sound familiar if you’ve been saki bombing). Or hop outside your comfort zone and explore the many picturesque villages that dot the Japanese countryside. Whatever you choose, you’ll have one opportunity after another to be captivated by the culture of truly enchanting Japan.
Japan’s History in 9 Minutes (this is a Youtube favorite with 45+ million views)
Are you surprised? South Korea is a relative newcomer to the list of favorite destinations, but an upswing in the popularity of K-pop a K-dramas has helped put this country on many English-speaking students’ study abroad radar.
Korean language courses, as well as English classes focusing on the arts and sciences make this a great place to work toward your undergraduate or master’s degree.
If a fast-paced, diverse setting appeals to you, consider Seoul, the country’s vibrant capital where you can immerse yourself in the unique customs of the culture, flavorful foods, and the one and only Gangnam District. With so much to offer, it’s easy to see why South Korea is quickly becoming a top choice among foreign students. Maybe you will be one of them!
3. BRAZIL 🇧🇷
This one’s not on anyone else’s list, and I honestly I haven’t even interviewed anyone that studied abroad here, yet. It’s not one of the most popular destinations, and other countries may seem more appealing to you.
They experienced an economic crisis in 2014 which means it’s pennies on the dollar (26 pennies as of this writing) right now. I’ve been to Brazil and It was AMAZING. Email me if you have any questions, too. There is so much more about this country that I could pen an entire post about it, so TBC on that.
A Short Video I Made From My Visits To Florianopolis & Bariloche
(Bariloche is in Argentina which also made the list)
4. SOUTH AFRICA 🇿🇦
This option is a little more outside the box, but quickly gaining popularity. Considered by the international science community to be the cradle of humankind, South Africa is steeped in rich cultural, political, and archaeological history. Yet, you’ll be amazed at how modern and developed it is. And how culturally diverse (as in 11 official languages). For international undergraduates the University of Capetown is a great school to consider; not only is it affordable, but also South Africa’s highest ranked university.
In order to truly appreciate the flavor of this intriguing country, I recommend that you go local.
The townships are living memorials of South Africa’s somewhat erratic past, but also offer local attractions that you shouldn’t miss, like Vilikazi Street in Soweto and Mzoli’s Place, an outdoor restaurant where visitors are introduced to the somewhat unique combination of really loud music and scrumptious “braaing”, or barbequing as we would say.
By the way, South African currency, the Rand, is extremely weak which gives you the green light to eat and shop to your heart’s content, even on a meager student budget. Once you get there, this is one super affordable destination.
5. AUSTRALIA 🇦🇺
Head down under for an unbeatable place to study, especially for first-timers. No need to learn a new language here, as this is an English-speaking country filled with fun and friendly Aussies. It might take a little effort to get used to their slang, but your new “mates” will help you get the hang of it in no time.
Adventure seekers will love Australia’s mix of rugged terrain, expansive beaches, and cosmopolitan cities. Like Sydney, for example, where there’s never a shortage of cultural activities, gorgeous beaches, and a hopping night life to keep you busy.
Brisbane is another popular option, consistently ranking in the top five as the best and most affordable student city. It’s where you can combine a world-class education with an amazing international experience – without breaking the bank. And if you’re looking for things to do in your spare time, pick from a long list of great cultural sites, live music, theater, and entertainment venues. Or pay a visit to Australia’s largest art gallery. You’ll find it in Brisbane.
No need to feel left out if you’re more the outdoorsy type. A trek through Australia’s Outback will give you an up-close and personal look at the beauty of gorgeous landscapes and landmarks.
6. FRANCE 🇫🇷
France always attracts students in record numbers. Food. History. Romance. These are some of the words that probably pop into your mind when you think of this super popular host country.
By far, Paris is the go-to city for international students. Are you picturing the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, sidewalk cafes, fabulous dining, and strolls along the Seine? Oh, and don’t forget the Louvre.
There are lots of other excellent study abroad programs available outside the capital that are much more affordable. Consider Aix-en-Provence in southern France, a beautiful university city with stunning beach access. If food is your thing, you’re sure to love Lyon, which is one of the culinary capitals of the world.
Smaller cities like these can be just as fun and exciting as Paris, with living costs that are way easier on the budget.
7. ITALY 🇮🇹
Like France, Italy continues to be one of the most sought-after destinations for study abroad students. There’s pretty much something to meet everyone’s educational goals here with programs that blend Italian cultural studies with major courses from business to fine arts. Plus most programs require little or no Italian language study (although I can’t imagine not wanting to soak up as much of this beautiful, romantic language as you can).
The country itself will be a feast for your eyes and soul with iconic historical sites, breathtaking landscapes, and luscious cuisine around every corner. You definitely should be ready to put on a few pounds. And, of course, is there anything that beats the fabulous Mediterranean weather!
Rome and Florence are the two cities selected most often by study abroad students, but many other less popular cities around the country will not disappoint. Sorrento with it’s stunning water views and an amazing culinary scene is a perfect example.
And given the theme of food in this post, I think it’s worth noting that I recently interviewed a well known international travel blogger who said Italy was “hands down” the best country she has ever been to for food.
This incapsulates the city of Rome to me 😂
8. SPAIN 🇪🇸
Every year, thousands of students pick Spain as their study abroad destination. Maybe it’s the great climate, or the rich cultural history, the friendly people or their laid back lifestyle. Or maybe it’s the daily siestas! Whatever the draw, the country consistently hosts a diverse group of student visitors from around the world.
Similarly, the diversity of programs guarantees housing and classroom options to suit every need. Keep in mind, however, that because thisis such a popular choice for studying abroad, it may take a little extra effort to immerse yourself in the local culture. To get the full impact, make it a priority to explore outside your comfort zone.
Whether on campus or mingling with the locals, this is the ideal place to hone your Spanish speaking skills. There’s nothing that the people of this country like better than lively conversation, sharing delicious food and drink, and enjoying the sun and surf with friends at their sun-drenched beaches.
The capital city of Madrid is the hub and heart of Spain; it’s a lively student city packed with things to see and do. Boredom will never be a problem in this engaging metropolis. If that’s not your style, many of the smaller cities and towns also host student populations that are just as active. Cities like Seville, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Granada are some of the most popular, all easily accessible by public transportation.
9. CHINA 🇨🇳
With more than 4,000 years of recorded history, China is an exceptionally interesting and exciting place to study. Its immense size (nearly as big as the entire continent of Europe), also makes this fascinating country extremely diverse.
China is a rising global powerhouse that boasts the largest emerging economy in the world. In light of these distinctions, business students and language enthusiasts wholeheartedly have taken to pursuing Mandarin and Cantonese study.
Duolingo claims 2.85 million registered Chinese language learners, with that number continually rising. There’s no doubt that proficiency in the language could give you a great competitive advantage when you enter the job market. Job experience or internships will also add a plus to your resume, particularly if they’re at one of the many corporate headquarters in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong.
When you’re not studying, be sure to put iconic landmarks like the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors on your “must do” list.
If you travel to China, you may want to prepare yourself for some culture shock. But go ahead and dive right in. The unique language and cultural perspectives just might be the highlight of your study abroad experience.
10. UNITED KINGDOM 🇬🇧
The UK is one of the most popular places to study in the world, with London, England, and Edinburgh, Scotland, typically being the top cities. Because there’s so much diversity among the four countries, one could be just right for you.
So, maybe this is your first time away from home. If you’re feeling a little jittery about being on your own in a foreign country, England is a great choice. Since English is spoken everywhere, the transition is pretty undramatic. Yes, even with all the quirky dialects. Many students love the built-in familiarity of this well-known country, as well as not having a language barrier to contend with. Is that you?On the other hand, because there’s not much discrepancy in culture,
some feel that England isn’t very challenging as a study abroad destination; it’s a little too comfortable and easy for them
Is that you?
Of course, you can expect to get a great education. England is home to prestigious universities like Oxford and Cambridge. And when you’re busy studying, there’s always plenty to do in your free time, especially in London, which, naturally, is a favorite. You won’t want to miss iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace (will you be the one to make the Queen’s guards smile?), Windsor Castle, Big Ben, the Tower of London, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Elsewhere, there are well-known landmarks like Blackpool Tower, Stonehenge, and the White Cliffs of Dover.
One thing to keep in mind is that London is quite expensive, so if England is your go-to destination, another university town definitely would be more budget-friendly.
This may be one of the best kept secrets for studying abroad. Historic castles (maybe you’ll live in one!), royalty, breathtaking landscapes, to-die-for food, museums, bagpipes, festivals, kilts, soccer, bustling cities like Edinburgh, and rolling country hills. From what I’ve been told, Scotland grabs you and never lets go – you’re going to feel right at home the minute you arrive.
Even though Scotland is not attached to mainland Europe, a great transportation system makes it easy and cheap to trek over to any European country. Or fly to Ireland for around $25 round trip. Within Scotland, trains and buses ensure you can get anywhere you want to be.
What about the Scottish people? They’re great – warm and welcoming and always happy to share their kooky, but lovely lifestyle with you.
West of England, south of Scotland, and east of Ireland, Wales is home to some of the UK’s top universities. Prestigious Bangor University, for example, features a variety of academic offerings for study abroad participants. Bangor is a small city with a big backdrop, otherwise known as Snowdonia National Park, the most beautiful national park in the UK. The city is not on most tourists’ itineraries; so if you’re looking to avoid congestion, you can experience a lifestyle that treasures both education and the environment. Inside the classroom and out, this is where you’ll discover a locale that has retained its rugged Celtic charm though the centuries.
Wales is a feast for the eyes with its lush countrysides, sprawling beaches, and towering ocean cliffs. Its stunning beauty will make you think you’re living on the set of an epic movie. And, oh, the castles! This picture-perfect country is home to more castles per square mile than any other country in the world. 🏰
The food of Wales is another feast to fall in love with – that includes everything from award-winning cheeses to scrumptious Welsh Black Beef.
You’ll hear the word “craic” a lot in Ireland. It’s pronounced crak and the best translation I can give you is “fun!” This gorgeous country is brimming with music and dance that will tickle your soul. You haven’t lived til you’ve sipped Guinness and done an Irish jig in a local pub. Or cheered on your favorite team with friends at a rugby, hurl, or football match. Maybe you’ll even join up and play a game or two yourself. Go for it and get involved. Rain or shine – and there is a lot of rain – the Irish love their sports.
On the more serious side, Ireland has deep-rooted history, customs, and traditions. Travel there and you’ll be welcomed by warm, hospitable people who will gladly share their history and vibrant culture with you. Academically, it’s home to some outstanding schools such as Trinity College in Dublin and Queen’s University in Belfast, which is one of the UK’s leading universities. Higher education in Ireland is internationally ranked, with exceptional offerings in the fields of literature, technology, communications, Irish studies, history, and environmental studies.
You know that Ireland is called the Emerald Isle, right. It really is a magical land of velvet green landscapes and soaring cliffs reaching down to the sea. Don’t forget to kiss the Blarney Stone while you’re there. It’s said you’ll gain the gift of eloquence, which sure can come in handy in a foreign country.
10. GERMANY 🇩🇪
The joys of a welcoming culture and world-class education draw students from around the world to Germany, a mainstay on the list of best places to study abroad year after year.
Germany is extremely student-friendly, with a variety of discounts available to the student population, like reduced or free public transit. Thanks to its status as an economic powerhouse, it is an especially popular destination for those interested in business, political science, and the German language. Some of the world’s largest companies are headquartered here, also making it a great place for academic internships. Land one of those and see what a plus it will be on your resume.
If you choose Germany, it will be helpful if you already know the language, at least partially. But many programs offer a combination of courses taught in German, as well as English, so it’s all do-able.
Besides being home to Oktoberfest and the Neuschwanstein Castle (think Disney’s Cinderella Castle), there are charming burgs everywhere and around other 20,000 castles to explore in your free time. Use those free transit passes! Get to know big city Berlin with its artsy alternative vibe, or check out some of the quaint and cozy smaller towns. The architecture, history, and culture of this beautiful country will grab you from day one.
Fun Fact: The very first interview I did on the podcast was an a story from Germany (and Austria) 🎙.
11. ARGENTINA 🇦🇷
Argentina is the second largest country in South America and, take it from me, it’s an amazing place to study abroad. I did a six-week program in Buenos Aires, the largest city, where I had the opportunity to live among some of the most fun-loving and passionate people I’ve ever met. They were warm and kind, and eager to show me the ropes. And seriously seriously improve my Spanish language skills.
I guarantee that you, too, will have an unforgettable experience from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. Try tango dancing and dine on fine steak in Buenos Aires. Explore the wine country of Mendoza. Hike Patagonia. And absolutely make a trek to Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfalls in the world. You’ll never see anything like it again in your life.
Argentina has a stunning natural beauty and diverse geography that are great if you’re into outdoor exploration and adventure. There’s so much to see and do, but the country is so expansive that I suggest focusing on one specific area at a time. Or better yet… stay longer! I wish I could have.
12. HAWAII 🇺🇸
You bet! This is an area I want to highlight more throughout the Study Abroad Smarter realm. What I mean by Hawaii is that you can study abroad anywhere in the United States. It’s not study abroad. Its study domestic, and it’s a thing. But students rarely do it because they don’t even think about it as an option.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience a different city or state, shoot over to your friendly neighborhood study abroad advisor‘s office and see what’s good. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to help you plan it.
12.5. NONE OF THE ABOVE 🌍
The government actually wants you to learn less learned languages in more exotic countries. If you really want to get off the grid, immerse yourself, and take the path less traveled listen to this interview with Jeff Cary.
The list below are what I consider to be the dark horses on the list. They’re less traveled, but there are still McDonald’s.
Think of it like this. You probably know someone who studied abroad in Australia or London, but you probably don’t know anyone who studied abroad in…
There are so many more, but use this list to jump-start your thinking process. See, there really is something for everyone. Now… where in the world will you decide to spend your study abroad time?
Also it’s worth noting to be cognizant of the expenses that go into the trip. It’s fun when the exchange rate is on your side.
A Big City vs. A Small Town
Even within a specific country, students who study in an urban area will have very different tales to tell than those who live in a smaller or more rural setting. The lifestyle differences can be substantial, with advantages and disadvantages to each.
Do you prefer the excitement and fast-pace of a big city or the serenity and laid-back environment of a small town?
There are colleges and universities in each type of locale. And by the way, the city or town where you study also will be a big factor in the cost of your trip. Determine which setting is best for you overall and make that part of your decision.
I’m using pictures and examples from the U.S. for a reason. My explanation at the bottom explains why.
Big City Pros 🏗🎭🏟🍕
If you’re not thrilled about giving up many of the conveniences you’re accustomed to, an urban area probably will be a good choice. For starters, you’ll find large cities to be well equipped with all the modern technologies you need, from internet to telephone to television.
Excellent public transportation systems make it easy to connect with just about any place you want to be – efficiently and cheaply. And the entertainment options are practically endless.
Spend your free time enjoying theaters and music venues, restaurants, clubs and pubs, coffee shops, sporting events, and stores packed with all your favorite brands from back home. Really, you’ll never run out of things to do.
Another attractive element of city life is the accessibility it provides to cultural attractions such as museums, art galleries, and iconic landmarks. Because metro areas are melting pots, you’ll be exposed to diverse groups of people from different cultures, often speaking multiple languages. Take advantage of the opportunities to interact with them, on and off campus. This in itself is an beneficial, eye-opening experience that can help prepare you for a career anywhere in the world.
Studying in an urban setting provides convenient access to career-boosting internships and jobs at prime companies. With professionals and other top executives headquartered in large cities, it’s also easier to network and connect with the people who can possibly open doors for you job-wise.
Big City Cons 🏭💥🏗💰
All these components of big city living are enticing, but keep in mind that they do come at a price. Everything is typically more expensive in an urban setting, including food, rent, and entertainment. Do you really want to choose between paying the rent or taking a life-changing side trip to an iconic site? You and your family will need to determine if study abroad in a big city makes sense for you financially.
With so many fun things to do right at your fingertips, you have to make sure you’ve got the discipline to put your academics first and not let all the extras distract you. I’m not saying this will be the case for you, but it’s been known to happen. I’m just sayin’…
While you certainly will be exposed to a variety of cultures in a large city, you probably won’t experience total cultural immersion. Sure, there will be hints of it everywhere, but metro areas are always the first parts of a country to be internationalized. This means you won’t have much difficulty finding familiar foods and products, as well as friends from your own country. Will you be in your comfort zone? Sure. But your experience won’t be as culturally enriching as it would be in a smaller town.
Lastly, consider the safety factor. Urban areas are arguably more dangerous than their rural counterparts. Not to mention the noise, traffic, lack of natural landscaping, and higher pollution levels – all components that may or ma
y not play a role in your decision to be a city dweller.
Small Town Pros 🛶🎢🏘🧘♀️
If you’re looking for a real taste of local culture, studying abroad in a small town may be ideal for you. Many students have come back from rural areas with a newfound understanding of the country they’ve been in. They’ve had the opportunity to live like a local and really immerse themselves in the culture. Living in a small town allows you to develop a sense of community and let your identity shine through. It’s a chance to personally develop yourself and overcome the challenges of a new language, customs, and environment.
Unlike in a big city, making friends may be much easier. You won’t be among strangers for long. Besides getting to know the locals, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to interact with other students. And what better way to polish your language skills than to dive right in andactually use it.
At school, you’re likely to get more personal attention from professors and other university staff, making for a more interactive academic experience. You might even have your own tutor to support you and offer advice during your entire study abroad period.
There are other advantages to living in a small town. Living costs can be quite low. You may be surprised at how cheap it can be to get a room in a residence hall or shared flat. Or maybe you’ll live in a private home with a family. You can use the money you save on accommodations and other day-to-day expenses for side trips to interesting locales. Plus, the business owners in smaller towns usually are happy to offer special student discounts at their restaurants, bars, local attractions.
Small Town Cons 🥣👨💻👩🌾🐌
The down side of all those great student discounts is that there probably are not so many bars, pubs, clubs, and restaurants, or organized activities like concerts or sporting events. If that’s the case, I suggest you simply find a favorite spot and become a regular loyal customer. There are bound to be special deals for you.
In general, many of the conveniences you have back at home are sure to be lacking, so you’ll have to test your ingenuity and either find creative solutions or adapt to what’s there. Where there’s a will there’s a way, so I know you can do it!,
What about internships and jobs? They definitely will be harder to find, especially if you don’t speak the language well. And if you do, there aren’t likely to be many options to choose from.
Realistically, there’s a good chance that most student jobs will be at your host university.
Of course, you’ll live in a more relaxed environment in a small or rural setting – less pollution, fewer crimes, a certain ease in your day-to-day lifestyle. Just be sure to do your research because small town living comes with a spectrum of options. On the one hand, it could mean a place where it’s difficult to find buses, taxis, trains, or even planes. In other places you can connect to urban city centers fairly easily. Do the research before you go and you’ll have a good feel for what to expect in the area you choose.
Here’s where I come out:
Since I’ve started conducting these interviews, I’ve realized that there are several mid size cities that I have never heard of before and they’re absolutely beautiful. You get most of the pros, and not so many of the cons.
For example, you have heard of Chicago and you have probably heard of Madison, WI. Let’s contrast this with Spain. You know Barcelona, you know Madrid, but have you ever heard of Oviedo? It’s got a population of 220,000, it’s close to the ocean, and absolutely gorgeous.
So if you’re torn, try and find another Oviedo. There are literally hundreds like it and I’m discovering them on almost a day basis through the podcast.
Ready. Set. Go!
When thoughts of studying abroad start to excite you, begin perusing and researching the options that are out there. If you already have aparticular part of the world in mind. Great! If not, it could take a while to zero in on your favorite(s) so start early.
Talking with an advisor in your school’s study abroad office can be a HUGE help. They are priceless resources who know how to guide you through the entire process and ensure that you find the perfect country for your international adventure.
“I enjoyed myself so much more than I ever could have hoped that I did and in ways that I could have never expected” — Abby Haley
The more interviews I do on the show, the more enamored I am with the country of France. When studying abroad in Europe almost everyone takes advantage of the cheap flights to explore other areas of the continent. You can’t go everywhere, but it seems like Paris is almost never left off the list of places students make a point to visit.
Enter Abby Haley, who is our first Parisian we’ve had on the show. A junior at Ithaca College, Abby decided to study abroad with a program called CEA and seems to be loving every minute of it.
This is just a great interview for anyone interested in studying abroad. There are great stories and recommendations, and you really get a feel for what it’s like to live in the city of love.
Quote Abby would like to leave us with:
“Only the gentle are ever really strong” — James Dean
Mixing in art history with Paris (naturally) [1:17]
Deciding how long to go and with what program [2:34]
Affiliated vs. unaffiliated study abroad programs and scholarships [3:51]
Why Abby decided to go in the fall instead of the spring [5:07]
Dividing and conquering Europe with her friends [5:40]
Abby’s living situation in the heart of Paris [6:07]
“Instead of being in one location while you’re studying abroad, you’re actually going all around the world” — Julie Alagna
ALL ABOARD…Semester at Sea is an amazing opportunity. Julie Alagna did it herself, and now she works for them. If you’re at all interested in embarking on this incredible journey you should definitely tune into this podcast.
Julie covers just about everything from applying to scholarships at the beginning to signing up for classes to the living arrangements on board.
Interesting fact: Julie speaks fluent French, and we find out why early on in the interview.
Quote Julie would like to leave you with:
“A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to slowly be born.” — Antoine de Saint-Exuper
How Semester at Sea is different than any other study abroad program [1:25]
Why Julie chose Semester at Sea [2:32]
$5 Million a year in scholarships and having awareness of what’s available [4:36]
A ship*, not a boat [6:33]
Signing up for classes [7:31]
When you can go [9:12]
Gaining a worldly view of, well, the world [10:13]
“I challenge you to think of a way that in 10 years you will look back and think studying abroad was a bad decision.” — David Carlton
David Carlton got three credits in one month. How did he do that? He studied abroad and took advantage of the plethora of options available to students at Ohio State. I’m sure your school has similar options to this, just talk with your advisor and I’m sure you can figure something out.
This turned out to be perfect for David because he wanted to do an internship in the summer and didn’t know if he was ready to study abroad for an entire semester (more on this later).
He ended up having a great time and, like everyone who comes on the podcast, he recommends studying abroad to any and every college student as evidenced in his quote above.
David liked his trip so much that he is planning a second trip to Spain for an entire semester. I haven’t talked about this very much on the website, but it seems to be an obvious benefit of going early on in your college career.
France and Morocco pre departure and timing (it’s everything) [1:35]
Applying for scholarships [3:14]
Fear of not being able to speak the language [3:57]
Trip costs and wrapping received credit into a one month period [4:53]
Living arrangements on the road with the Buckeyes [6:26]
David’s favorite part of the trip [8:18]
What David’s coursework looked like during this month [8:52]
Planning a second study abroad trip [10:05]
David’s advice if you’re thinking about studying abroad [11:18]
The Carltons and The Eiffel Tower [Infographic]
Thank you so much for listening. Please subscribe and review on your favorite podcast medium.
“At the very least, visit your study abroad office and ask a question or two” — Colleen Marchwick
Colleen Marchwick is the Director of the Center for International Education at UW-Eau Claire and teaches a great deal about the process of studying abroad in today’s interview.
Before serving in The Peace Corps for two years and obtaining her Master’s degree at Ohio University, Maureen received her undergraduate degree at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. She tells us about a study abroad guide that gets into the nitty gritty of what it means to potential employers, sheds some light on what faculty programming actually is, and we learn that it is possible to study abroad during your winter break.
Although Colleen gives us a recommendation on a study abroad guide to read, you may as well listen to the interview in its entirety as Colleen served as your own personal digital study abroad guide for about half an hour.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” — Lau Tzu
Foreign language in college and spending a year in France 🇫🇷 [3:10]
A summer study abroad program is the most popular choice among students because of their ability to save $. Taylor didn’t even go for the entire summer either, she went for a month, but was able to pack that month with an abundance of experiences and memories.
This is a perfect interview to listen to if you’ve got some fears of studying abroad.Taylor approaches the interview with ‘if I can do it, anyone can’ mentality, and she’s right.
We discuss the importance of finding a study abroad meet or table on your campus as a good way to get introduced to the process as well as stories of the time she spent on her summer study abroad program in France (don’t worry, we get into the food).
“The world is a book and those who don’t travel only read one page” – St. Augustine
Language learning and studying abroad 📖 [1:14]
Getting over homesickness 🏠🤒 [2:59]
Advice if you’re on the bubble about studying abroad 🙌 [4:34]
Living in the moment 🥳 [5:05]
How Taylor’s group helped her while she was abroad 🦸♀️ [6:16]
What gave Taylor goosebumps in France 🙀 [6:39]
‘It’s a small world’ travel story 👭 [7:56]
The French food! 🥖 [9:18]
Taylor’s study abroad process leading up to her departure 💼 [12:00]
How Taylor’s experience led to her current internship 💻 [14:11]
“Studying abroad really educates the world.” — Hannah Marie Morris, P.h.D.
Study abroad consultant Hannah Morris is a true global education pioneer.
Through her non-profit, Intercultural Transitions, she is improving international education by making the transition for international students smoother when they arrive at their host school.
Hannah also provides counseling for students and their families to help the transition of both high school to college, and for study abroad students planning their trip through her consultancy, hannahmariemorris.com.
I have never met someone so in touch with the current pulse of global education.
Tune into this episode if you need a little push in order to pull the trigger. There are also some good anecdotes and book recommendations plus she’s doing the interview from the Sudan!
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it is on my list.” — Susan Sontag
Where In The World is Study Abroad Consultant Hannah Morris? [Infographic]
Chris: Welcome everyone to the Study Abroadcast. I’ve got a very special treat today with Dr. Hannah Marie Morris of hannahmariemorris.com. Dr. Morris, welcome to the Study Abroadcast. How are you doing today?
Dr. Morris: Hi, I’m doing great. Thanks for inviting me.
Chris: Thanks for being here. Dr. Morris has extensive international experience. She probably embodies what study abroad is in terms of the people I’ve found and I’m going to turn it over to her because, as far as this interview goes, more of her and less of me is probably better. She’s got a lot more experience, probably more than most. So Dr. Morris, again, thank you for being here. And, by the way, if you want to learn more about her – and I’ll talk about this at the end of the interview – you can go to her website, hannahmariemorris.com, to learn more about her and what she does. So Dr. Morris, could you maybe start by telling us a little bit about your background and how you got into study abroad.
`Dr. Morris: Yes, of course. I was the child of a third culture kid and my mother loved to travel so I was raised with these amazing stories about living in the Philippines and living in Germany, and I lived on military bases in the continental United States. So I always wanted to go out and see more. Not that we don’t have a beautiful country, but I wanted to see something that was different, have different languages, and so when I was in high school, I signed my family up to host an exchange student. And then I was able to be an exchange student myself, to Cognac, France, while I was in high school and I actually helped plan that trip. There were nine of us together that just made our own thing. We pitched it to our parents and they said sure, go buy flights to France. So since then, I just loved to study abroad. I got involved with our exchange student organization in university right away. Through that, we hosted students and kind of did everything that was non-academic for them. Obviously, the international center would help do the F-1 visas, but we helped them with everything from housing to understanding American culture. We took them to all the football games and the fun parties. Just let them understand what it was like to be a student. I studied abroad then, in Rouen, France, and then Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and by then, if you can’t tell, I was hooked. And so for the past decade, I have been focused on making sure that we open more pathways to more places in the world to more types of students, supporting students of all walks of life, all interests just to make sure that we continue this cross-cultural engagement and education.
Chris: You mentioned the word “hooked” and you’re really lucky, especially so early in your career, or even when you were in school, to find something that you’re so passionate about. And I guess the feather in your cap is that you get to travel. I was listening to Trevor Noah and he said, “You can’t waste your money on travel. You can waste your money on a lot of things, but travel is one thing that you can’t.” So you’ve kind of got the best of both worlds.
Dr. Morris: That’s a funny thing to say because we just are booking flights next month to Addis Ababa which I assumed would be very cheap from Sudan, and it’s not. And I literally said that last night where I was like oooh, are we really wasting money? This is going to be a good experience anyhow. But it was funny that you said that.
Chris: Right. So talk a little bit more about, so you had all this experience, especially in school, and you started in high school. And you evolved through to college and, like we said, you morphed it into a career. Talk to us a little more about hannahmariemorris.com and your consultancy which you’re working on now.
Dr. Morris: Of course. So, I started a non-profit called Intercultural Transitions with a colleague and a great friend of mine, Megan Norton, and she herself was a third culture kid. I want to say she’s probably lived in ten countries at this point, but it’s really hard to keep track with her so let’s just guess it’s that. What we did is we came together and we realized that there are so many students around the world that are continually moving and they’re crossing cultures. But not all universities, not all international schools, not all high schools are prepared to really accept that and help these students with transitioning. I know you were a study abroad student yourself, Chris. You probably had great support at your university that said this is what it’s going to be like. It’s going to be a different culture. And when you got there, they said welcome, here’s this new culture. And so what we do is we work with institutions to help them develop that programming for kind of the non-traditional style study abroad opportunities, or even when it looks like they might be a domestic student but they actually need that study abroad support, or they need that cultural transition support. So that’s what we do. It’s lots of fun. It means a lot of traveling, working with advisors and counselors across the world just to make sure we have people supported.
Chris: Ok, I was reading about it and that really sums it up. So you’re not going to London, England, where they’re probably already set up for things like that. But, for example, I studied abroad in Buenos Aires and the transition for students coming there and studying at those schools is out. Is that right?
Dr. Morris: Yes and no. Actually, I worked in London earlier this year because the thing that we forget is that we only often think about students as study abroad or foreign if they need that passport. So what do you do? Let’s say, Chris, you have a U.S. passport, correct?
Dr. Morris: But let’s say you were born in Japan and raised in Korea your whole life.
Dr. Morris: When you go to the United States, do you think that they would give you any orientation support?
Chris: Probably not.
Dr. Morris: Right, exactly. But you’d probably need it, right, because while English might be your mother tongue – I wouldn’t know – you might need to understand how are classes held in the United State, what is insurance and how do I make sure I’m using it properly, right. There’s all those little things that a lot of students actually fall through the cracks with. So I do help students, obviously, in places all around the world. But the United States and the UK are actually two markets that also are missing students and not always supporting them the way they need to be supported. So it’s really important that everyone kind of steps back and says are we really helping all the students or just the ones that we know to look for.
Chris: Oh, so that’s perfect. You literally probably have an endless amount of places you can go to help set this up. Am I right? I mean there’s always something that can be improved and there’s always transitions that need to be bettered.
Dr. Morris: Exactly, exactly. And I think that’s a really great way to say it because I was just in a meeting a few weeks ago and they’re finding that with the new generation of students coming in, international families are able to potentially come along with their students, right, so for a lot of students you might go to study abroad alone. But what happens when parents come to help with that move-in, right, the way you were moved in your first day of class.
Chris: Exactly, yes.
Dr. Morris: It’s on the university to make sure that they’re culturally sensitive and appropriate to a culture that may have only one child and that might be an important part of that culture, making sure that the parents know what their role is and how they can be supportive. So it’s an industry that’s always evolving. We’re always striving to be better. It’s why I love education.
Chris: Right, and I didn’t say this at the beginning of the interview, but Dr. Morris is actually in The Sudan right now.
Dr. Morris: Yes.
Chris: That’s pretty cool. She’s our first international – I’m in the United States – and she is our first global interview. I hope to have much more of these, but thank you for being the trendsetter here.
Dr. Morris: Happy to help!
Chris: All right, as someone so well versed in the area of international education, we know that only ten percent of students study abroad. What would you tell someone who’s on the bubble about study abroad and they’re just thinking well, no, it’s not worth it. Why should I study abroad? What would you tell a student? What would be your advice?
Dr. Morris: I think a lot of students, when they think of study abroad, they think of that semester in Europe and they say, well, that’s not for me. And what I’d like to remind students is that you can study abroad pretty much anywhere. I tell students: you can’t afford that passport yet, go to Puerto Rico. You’ll still have an intercultural exchange, you’re still getting on that plane, you’re still learning in a different language. You know, you don’t have to go and do what the traditional is. There’s somewhere in the world that you’ve never been where you’re going to learn and experience and gain perspective on yourself and the world around you. So I tell those students, yeah, you’re right, maybe you don’t need to go to that place a lot of your classmates or friends are going. But let’s try to find a place that has everything that you’re interested in and will help you learn more about yourself and the world around you.
Chris: I tell people – and I’ve written about this – it’s infinitely more costly not to go as far as the longevity after you graduate and whether or not you’re going to go to graduate school, or getting a job. It’s more costly to not study abroad than it is, I think, in the long term.
Dr. Morris: Oh absolutely. You probably talk about it all the time, but the skills that you can actively cultivate on a study abroad, skills such as learning how to navigate new environments and new language skills and just being in a diverse group of people who don’t see things the same way you do, are valued by so many companies around the world. I know. I meet in my life, because I live abroad for a lot of it, I meet lot of people who work for corporations or international schools and their stories all started in an educational study abroad, too. So it’s amazing the doors that’ll open and the friends that you’ll have for the rest of your life because you took this chance to open your experiences and open your life.
Chris: I know. Social media has changed so many things so it’s nice to be able to go on your trip and then you meet these people from all walks of life, all over the world. Then you’ve kind of got them and get to check up with them and that’s forever. You’ve made that connection for the rest of your life. That’s really cool and it’s something that students that don’t study abroad don’t get to have. So it’s perfect.
Dr. Morris: We just had this conversation. I was meeting with some people from the government and they were saying how many leaders of foreign countries, and the United States, how many world leaders studied abroad. And how important international education is and that we need to keep promoting this because that’s how they’re able to go and have these summits and meet with people that are different from them, right. Because they’ve been there. They’ve done these international exchanges. Study abroad really does educate the world.
Chris: Well put, Dr. Morris. Study abroad educates the world.
Dr. Morris: By the way, you can all me Hannah. I forgot to tell you that in the beginning.
Chris: All right. Well, very well put, Hannah. Thank you. Now could you share with us maybe an epic travel story or something that you’d tell at a dinner party.
Dr. Morris: Something I tell at a dinner party, but I very rarely tell a group of students that I’m taking abroad because I might disown them if they did this. When I was studying abroad in the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, my friends and I decided, on a whim, to go see Victoria Falls which sounded a lot easier to get to, but it actually included a two-day train, almost being denied a border crossing, having to take multiple buses that broke down, staying a night in Lusaka – I mean everything that you could imagine. We were like a confederacy of dunces. We were not planned at all and we somehow made it. Making it to Victoria Falls, you see this beautiful natural landmark of the world that is revered by the local people to that area. I’d butcher the name if I would say it in it’s local language, but it really is this gorgeous waterfall. And then, of course, we hitchhiked on our way back to Lusaka, somehow got another bus, then got a train, almost got kicked off a train again, made it back into Dar es Salaam. We still joke today that some of those experiences that we had where we didn’t plan it out – you know Zambia is a very safe country – we really were able to experience the kindness of humans, learn that life actually happens whether or not you’re planning it out. So go out and kind of have fun. Go do some of those crazy things. Please don’t do what I did. It was not the smartest, but at the end of the day, it really helped me embrace that the world is nowhere near as scary as people say it is.
Chris: No, it’s not. It’s a fallacy that people think this. That’s another reason why people don’t go. But that story gives the idea that the journey is just as important as the destination, and had everything gone smoothly, you wouldn’t have remembered it as well. Now you’ve got this story to tell so it worked out great.
Dr. Morris: Absolutely, and my mom doesn’t know the whole story yet so sorry, Mom!
Chris: Well, maybe she’ll listen to the podcast and she’ll get educated on the story.
Dr. Morris: She’ll have some questions.
Chris: Moving on, what would be a book recommendation that you could give?
Dr. Morris: I usually give two, and I’ll go through them quickly. I’m just going to start this over – sorry. I usually give two recommendations and they each come from one of my study abroads. The first one was the book, The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova and it’s about travelling through the middle east and Europe through multiple generations, multiple time periods. If you love to travel and you have a sense of adventure, it’s a beautiful story to follow. And then while I was living in Dar es Salaam, I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. That book just beautifully depicts the disastrous repercussions of colonialism and where arrogance and prejudice can lead, especially when you’re entering a new culture in a new country. I just really appreciated that book because it helped me remember to be humble and to go into a new country or culture and say ok, I’m here to learn, what’s next?
Chris: Right. I’ll have to check those out and I’ll definitely link them with the post. Now, getting into my favorite part of international travel is food. What is your favorite dish from abroad that you can remember and I know that’s kind of a loaded question given everywhere that you’ve been. So feel free to say more than one. And what favorite do you miss from back home? What do you like when you come back home?
Hannah: I had the pleasure of living and working in Chengdu, China, which is the capital of the Sichuan province and that, in my opinion, is the culinary capital of China – by far the best food in the world. People think of Sichuan and think only of spicy, but really you need to think flavorful. We joke that the food of Sichuan dances on your tongue. You have sweet and salty and sour and everything. People might know Kung Pao chicken, this is the real deal. This is real hot, hot. We have a great little restaurant her in Khartoum that I finally found run by people from Chengdu and I’m so excited. So that is what I miss from my travels. And while I am abroad, I very much miss fruits and vegetables native to North America, such as the sweet potato, squashes and all of our colorful berries. You can’t replace those. They don’t travel well and so that is what I miss whenever I think of if. Like now.
Chris: I know. You take for granted when you’re living in these places that you can just walk out and go a block away and get something that you now miss. My thing when I studied abroad in Buenos Aires was empanadas. That’s what they’re known for. I’d just go out and there’s a local shop that sells them and now you can’t get them anywhere.,
Hannah: It’s a little packet of happiness. I love a good empanada. You’ve got to go down to Florida. We have them in Florida now.
Chris: Actually, my dad lives in Florida, so I will keep that in mind. Piggybacking on the food, when you go to a bar, you’d order what?
Hannah: I always go for the local beer. Local beer is what you’ve got to do. One, we know it’s safe to drink. It’s going to be much safer than any water source in a lot of parts of the country. If you can get it cold, that’s even better. And there’s just something great about having a nice cold beer, laughing with some stranger, often when you don’t even share a language. I also always try to encourage students to not drink too much when they’re abroad, especially in a new environment. The nice thing about a local beer is it’s probably going to be on a lower percentage as long as you’re outside of central Europe. So it’s a nice way to stay safe, have a great conversation and still have a refreshing moment.
Chris: I know. It’s interesting, as with food – well, food and drink – how it varies and it’s different in every part of the world, as to the quantity, the time that it takes, everything.
Hannah: Oh absolutely.
Chris: It’s actually part of the experience and you morph into that. You adapt to the culture when you’re there and then when you leave and go back home, or somewhere else, it’s completely different again and you’ve got to go back to what you started with.
Hannah: I always joke that the French ruined my palate for wine because now I have such high expectation after living in France. I was actually just in France last month and I totally understand because you get used to something that tastes so divine and when you don’t have it any more, it will always be missed.
Chris: Right. Good. I want to go out right now and get something and I don’t know what to get. There’s nothing. So I’m kind of jealous of you getting to travel to all these places.
Hannah: Well, you’ll have to book a new flight soon.
Chris: I know. I will. I’m planning on it actually. Finally, what’s a quote you’d like to leave us with.
Hannah: The background or the wallpaper to my computer is a quote this is attributed to Susan Sontag. Now that I say this, I’m not sure if it’s her. I’ll have to actually google that. It says, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.“
Chris: That’s a lot of places to go, too.
Hannah: I’ll keep trying.
Chris: Honestly, if anyone could get there, it’s you. You guys have to get on hannahmariemorris.com. You’ve got to see everywhere she’s been. Ok, that is all I have. Is there anything you’d like to add, or did we pretty much cover everything?
Hannah: No, I think it’s wonderful that you’re starting to highlight how fascinating and accessible study abroad can be, and I hope that you keep finding ways to bring more diverse topics. I know I have a pretty typical story when you think of study abroad and my background, but I hope to keep listening to your stories and hearing who else is going to be coming along.
Chris: Right. Study Abroadcast is really simple, but I think I may have told you the first time we had this conversation, there’s an infinite amount of blogs, travel blogs and people recollecting their adventures of study abroad. But there’s nothing really in the audio format that focuses on it. So I’m really excited about the project. All right, I think that does it. Hannah, thank you very much for being here. You can find out more about Hannah again on hannahmariemorris.com. I’m on social media and I’m on Studyabroadsmarter.com, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat (when I have time) and Instagram. So thank you very much, Hannah, and we will talk to you soon.